FAIRFIELD, Conn — A Connecticut man has been charged and fired his job after a viral video showed him berating smoothie shop employees and using racial slurs.
Police say James Iannazzo went into the Robek’s shop in Fairfield after his son had to go to the hospital. He claimed earlier in the day, his son received a drink with peanut butter in it, causing a severe allergic reaction.
One employee recorded a video of the incident and posted it to TikTok on Saturday.
In the video, Iannazzo demanded to know who made the smoothie, and when employees could not tell him, the man became mad, yelling at employees and using a number of expletives.
At one point, he is seen throwing a drink at an employee. He can also be heard making comments toward an employee referencing their immigration status.
Police said they received numerous calls from employees from the shop. The employees said a customer was throwing things, yelling at employees, and refusing to leave.
Employees told Iannzzo to leave multiple times but he remained inside the shop and continued to yell insults at the employees.
Police said the man attempted to open a locked door that led to an “Employees Only” area where the employees were behind the counter. Iannazzo left the store before police arrived.
After he was identified, he turned himself in to authorities telling officers that he was upset about his son having a severe allergic reaction and he went back to the store as a result.
In a statement through his attorney, Iannazzo said his actions were wrong and he deeply regretted them.
"I made my regrettable comments because my 17-year-old son was taken to the hospital suffering from life threatening anaphylactic shock. He collapsed at our home while drinking the smoothie from Robek’s, which contained some sort of nut product, after I had advised them of his nut allergy when I ordered his drink."
Iannazzo said his son lost his capacity to breathe after starting to drink the smoothie, collapsed in the bathroom and required at least two doses from an EpiPen before first responders arrived.
"Thank God, he is doing okay. I’d like to thank my wife and the first responders who I believe saved his life," he said. "This is the worst nightmare of every parent whose child has a similar allergy."
According to police, employees reported that Iannazzo never told them about the peanut allergy but had only requested that there be no peanut butter in his drink.
"I was out of my mind with fear for him when I returned to Robek’s, and I wish I had not done so. I also wish they had been more careful preparing my son’s beverage," he said in his statement. "I will be extending my apologies personally to the Robek’s organization, particularly the staff that was working there that night."
Merrill Lynch, where Iannazzo was employed, confirmed that he has been fired.
"Our company does not tolerate behavior of this kind," the company said in a statement. "We immediately investigated and have taken action. This individual is no longer employed at our firm."
Iannazzo was arrested and charged with Intimidation Based on Bigotry or Bias, Breach of Peace and Criminal Trespass in the First Degree. He was issued a court appearance date of Feb. 7.